Background

Previous research on sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) trends has focused on self-reported consumption from survey data, but few studies have used objective store sales. None have examined differences by store type or area-level demographics.

Methods

Using national Nielsen Retail Scanner point-of-sales data from 25,800 stores, we calculated the average annual volume of beverages sold per store per 3-digit zip code from 2006-2015. To analyze trends, we used a multilevel regression model, with random intercepts for state; and separate models for beverage type (regular soda, low-calorie soda, fruit juice/drinks, bottled water). We examined differences by store type (convenience stores, supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers) and area-level income, education, and race/ethnicity, categorized as tertiles using American Community Survey 5-years estimates from 2005-2009.

Results

Our model-based estimates suggest that volume sales of regular soda (-13.0%), low calorie soda (-21.3%), and fruit juice/drinks (-13.6%) decreased over the period, while sales of bottled water (+31.2%) increased. Decreases in SSB sales were largely concentrated in supermarkets, and larger in counties with high income and education levels, and a high percentage of black and Hispanic population.

Conclusions

Trends were not equal across store type and area-level demographics, suggesting that targeted approaches to improving beverage intake behaviors may be most effective.